The European Union urged the United States on Saturday to reconsider its decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said in a statement.
“In this context, we urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision,” they said a day after President Donald Trump announced the move, accusing the U.N. agency of becoming a puppet of China.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also condemned the move and pledged intensive talks with Washington on the issue.
The decision is “the wrong signal at the wrong time,” Maas told German media group Funke. With the number of infections continuing to rise globally, “we cannot tear down the dike in the middle of a storm”, he said.
The EU has led calls for a review of the international response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the U.N. agency’s performance.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has defended the agency against fierce criticism by Trump, has promised a review of its performance after the pandemic eases.
Trump last month halted funding for the 194-member organization, then in a May 18 letter gave the WHO 30 days to commit to reforms.
Speaking at the White House on Friday, Trump said Chinese officials pressured the WHO to “mislead the world”.
The move to quit the Geneva-based body comes amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak. The virus first emerged in China’s Wuhan city late last year.
European Commission Statement
In an EU-led resolution adopted by consensus on 19 May at the World Health Assembly, all WHO Member States agreed to initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation to review lessons learnt from the international health response to the coronavirus, notably with the objective of strengthening future global health security preparedness.
Evaluating our global response is necessary as there are lessons to be learnt from this pandemic, its outbreak and response to it. The evaluation of our collective performance at international level is only a necessary process, aiming at strengthening health security.
Global cooperation and solidarity through multilateral efforts are the only effective and viable avenues to win this battle the world is facing. The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future. For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed. In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided. In this context, we urge the US to reconsider its announced decision.
Reuters / European Commission